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Research Project: Genetic Enhancement of Watermelon, Broccoli, and Leafy Brassicas for Economically Important Traits

Location: Vegetable Research

Title: Gene sequences present in Citrullus sp. having been lost during domestication of watermelon

item Levi, Amnon
item Wechter, William - Pat
item Massey, Laura
item Donahoo, Ryan
item Jarret, Robert - Bob
item NIMMAKAYALA, P - West Virginia State University
item REDDY, U - West Virginia State University
item FEI, Z - Cornell University - New York

Submitted to: Molecular Breeding
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/5/2013
Publication Date: 1/11/2014
Citation: Levi, A., Wechter, W.P., Massey, L.M., Donahoo, R.S., Jarret, R.L., Nimmakayala, P., Reddy, U.K., Fei, Z. 2014. Gene sequences present in Citrullus sp. having been lost during domestication of watermelon. Molecular Breeding. P450.

Interpretive Summary: N/A

Technical Abstract: A wide genetic diversity exists among Citrullus species, while watermelon cultivars (Citrullus lanatus var. lanatus) share a narrow genetic base as a result of many years of domestication and selection for desirable fruit qualities. The recent international watermelon genome sequencing project revealed genomic regions that were preferentially selected, while a considerable number of gene sequences, among them several disease-resistance genes, were lost during domestication of the sweet-red watermelon. To understand the underlying process of watermelon evolution and domestication, we designed polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers for the "lost" gene sequences and conducted PCR experiments with genotypes representing the different Citrullus species, including C. lanatus var. citroides, C. lanatus var. lanatus, C. colocynthis, C. ecirhosus, and C. rehmii. The results in this study elucidate junctures in watermelon evolution and domestication. Also, this study identifies Citrullus genotypes that contain the "lost" genes. These genotypes might be useful in future breeding programs aimed at enhancing disease resistance in watermelon by incorporating the “lost” gene sequences into the genome of watermelon cultivars.